25 August 2014

Salford is increasingly coming under attack from planners and builders that want to pave over our remaining green spaces, with behind the scenes deals and proposals emerging in favour of new and very large housing developments. This is something evident across the entire city, from Worsley to Walkden, and largely these plans have been only coming to light right in the final moments of the process, giving residents little chance to have a say on what is being built on their doorstep.

Black Leach Country Park

Black Leach Country Park

The agenda seems to be, in most cases, to provide more housing and capitalise on the city’s rising house prices. Whilst of course this raises profit for those involved, rarely can any tangible benefits to the people of Salford be seen, in exchange for their limited parks, gardens and wild areas being taken away from them. What has become clear with previous developments in our area, is that whilst we are told these developments are in the name of increasing the amount of affordable housing, largely this isn’t the case and prices are well above what locals are able to reasonably pay for new homes, leading to more people renting and more property snaffled up by wealthy landlords and property companies.

New sites and proposals are constantly emerging from a number of developers and builders, including the notorious land owners Peel Holdings and builders Taylor Wimpey. Just a few of these proposals have been mentioned by Salford Green spaces organisation RAID (Residents Against Inappropriate Developments) which has been fighting a number of them. The areas range from small developments to utterly huge ones and, rather cynically, have been placed squarely on green land in busy popular areas with the company in question finding tenuous ways to support the huge developments with token gestures of for instance a small park or pond. Where once there were acres of open space. The Broadoak development proposal in Worsley of 600 homes, which went to a public enquiry and is awaiting a final decision, was fought tooth and nail by local residents and despite significant local evidence provided to the contrary continued to insist that traffic and pollutions levels would be unaffected.

In Worsley alone there are proposals for Greenleach Lane, Broadoak, Hazelhurst, Roe Green and Crossfield Drive. Looking further afield in Salford there are proposals for green sites on Walkden Hilltop Lane and Blackleach country park, Boothstown and Ellenbrook sites, Irlam and Cadishead sites and these continue all the way across the city’s green spaces towards the Manchester-Salford border. Even the old site of Ponoma Docks, home to incredibly rare orchid species, is under threat.

Bee Orchid, Pomona Docks

Bee Orchid, Pomona Docks

We all recognise that good quality, affordable housing is highly desirable and no one would want to obstruct those who are willing to invest in our city and make worthwhile improvements. However, presently this is not happening in a sensible way. Current housing proposals are both enormous and everywhere. We will, without doubt, regret destroying our urban wild areas in favour of building short- sighted projects that will further congest our inner city areas and decrease living standards, in a city that has numerous alternative brown-field sites and derelict houses crying out for regeneration.

Christopher Bertenshaw

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